In 1969, the field of human genetics was in its infancy. Amniocentesis was a new technique for prenatal diagnosis, and a newborn genetic screening program had been established in one state. There were also concerns about the potential hazards of genetic engineering. A research group at the Hastings Center and Paul Ramsey pioneered in the discussion of genetics and bioethics. Two principal techniques have emerged as being of enduring importance: human gene transfer research and genetic testing and screening. This essay (...) tracks the development and use of these techniques and considers the ethical issues that they raise. (shrink)
: In 1998, researchers discovered that embryonic stem cells could be derived from early human embryos. This discovery has raised a series of ethical and public-policy questions that are now being confronted by multiple international organizations, nations, cultures, and religious traditions. This essay surveys policies for human embryonic stem cell research in four regions of the world, reports on the recent debate at the United Nations about one type of such research, and reviews the positions that various religious traditions have (...) adopted regarding this novel type of research. In several instances the religious traditions seem to have influenced the public-policy debates. (shrink)
The last quarter of the twentieth century has given rise to reproductive technologies and arrangements that in the earlier part of the century could only be dreamed of by the authors of science fiction. We stand in the middle of this reproductive revolution, trying to cope with the developments that have already occurred but with an uneasy sense that the future may be even more complicated ethically than the past and the present. In this brief essay, I will survey recent (...) ethical and public-policy discussions of two reproductive techniques (assisted insemination and in vitro fertilization) and one reproductive arrangement (surrogate motherhood). After distinguishing three phases in the normative debate, I will briefly comment on some of the characteristics of, and continuing ambiguities in, the ethical debate of the past 25 years. At the conclusion of the essay, I will attempt to anticipate three future issues in ethics and reproduction. (shrink)
This essay explores some moral problems raised by experimentation involving the human fetus. In the first part of the essay three examples of fetal experimentation from the medical literature are described in some detail. Next, the ethical and legal arguments employed in the two major existing public policy-documents on fetal experimentation are analyzed. Finally, the author seeks to identify four fundamental presuppositions which underlie divergent normative positions on the problem of fetal experimentation.